Sugar... Not So Sweet!

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The average North American adult gets 20% of their daily energy intake from added sweeteners. So that means we are consuming lots of processed foods with lots of added sugar in them each day. Often times we only associate sugar intake with weight/fat gain and forget all of the other negative impacts it can have on our bodies and our lives. The effects are much deeper than love handles. We rack up sugar in things like sweetened beverages, breakfast cereals, sweetened milk, juice, our favorite Starbucks drinks, low quality protein bars and drinks, sauces & dressings, desserts, and even yogurt.

Sugar can...
promote inflammation in your body
suppress your immune system
suppress the release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in our bodies
diminish our energy levels
increase hunger and fatigue
raise your insulin levels
make your joints ache and affect workout recovery
negatively affect your hormones and your ability to deal with stress name a few!
Sugar is a substance that the risks simply do not give a lot of room for moderation. We have to be mindful of not only the consumption of that chemical in our bodies, but the imitation sugars like Splenda and aspartame. We have been mislead to believe that these are healthy alternatives, however they also have a long list of negative effects on our body and brain; including causing even more cravings for more sweets.

Does this mean we avoid all sugar consumption? No. Our bodies do need some sugar to thrive however natural sugars found in real, whole foods are the sugars we need. Real, whole foods like fruit don't seem to contribute to the sugar problem because of their fiber, water, and phytonutrient content. So don't be afraid of fruit!

So the question is... what is the best way to sustain healthy sugar consumption? I think I have scared you enough at this point. The answer... being mindful of your carb choices each meal.

The best way to approach your plate each meal is to choose a lean protein, a healthy fat, a veggie, and a smart carb.

Choosing a smart carb each meal will ensure that you are consuming the natural sugars your body desires. Below you will find a list of a few great carb choices to fuel your body and keep sugar consumption natural and low.
Red Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Brown Rice
Whole Grains
Low to Medium Sugar Fruit: 
Berries (any kind)
When you eat smart carbs like these, you’re also eating the fiber that comes along with it. That means your digestion slows down, so your blood sugar level doesn’t peak. Plus, you’re getting high-quality nutrients (vitamins, minerals).

Currently our P6 challengers are staying away from ALL white and refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. To do this, they are consuming the above smart carbs primarily but also using the following sugar substitutes in moderation when necessary:
Raw coconut palm sugar
Raw local honey
Organic maple syrup
Green leaf stevia
These still affect our blood sugar levels but they have other awesome nutrients that our bodies need.

And after all, improving our health and providing our bodies with the best possible fuel should always be our primary goal; not deprivation. Switching our focus to consumption of real, whole foods each meal... each day... will make decreasing the consumption of sugar much easier by keeping our bodies full and satisfied. The better fueled our bodies are, the more equipped we are mentally to fight cravings and decrease them over time. So tonight, grab some fruit... sweeten your tea with raw local honey... sweeten your homemade protein bars with dates. Your mind and body will thank you! And if you are participating in the P6 Challenge, you will thank yourself in 5 weeks and a few short days when you are down 4% body fat and a few hundred dollars richer! Keep climbing!

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